Vernacular language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dominance of Latin over the European vernacular languages ​​in the 15th century, illustrated by the language distribution of the incunabula

As vernacular language or vernacular language ( Latin vernaculus indigenous, invented itself), linguistics refers to any non- standardized language variety within a language area . There are vernacular languages ​​that have no or no clearly defined written corpus , which means that they are mainly used orally. This is to be distinguished from vernacular languages, which have texts, whereby these have different regional tints and do not have uniform grammatical rules. A third type is already so far removed from its standard language (also called standard language ), spatially or temporally, that the speakers no longer follow the original rules, as is observed, for example, with Germans in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. Vernacular languages ​​are not dialects. Any form of mother tongue that is neither a standard language nor a vernacular language can be called a dialect . It is very difficult to draw a line between dialect and vernacular language. Vernacular language is in contrast to languages ​​that were established in a language area - for example in the course of colonialism - such as the French language in large parts of Africa.

The term goes back to the Christian concept of the tres linguae sacrae ( Hebrew , Greek and Latin ), which gave Latin the status of the standardized written language in the Middle Ages and beyond. The respective national and national languages, referred to as lingua vernacula , lingua vulgaris , lingua barbara or barbarica , lingua rustica , were suppressed or hindered as literary languages ​​through the concept of the "three holy languages" (tres linguae sacrae) until the early modern period . because they were considered inferior.

to form

In connection with vernacular languages, umbrella languages ​​that cover several regional languages ​​are referred to using the term vehicular language . This can be a national language that is used by members of different language communities as the lingua franca. Lingua franca are in opposition to the vernacular language, the use of which is purely practical and is used in communication about topics and objects of everyday life, whereby it serves as an important identity feature for the speakers.

In the broadest sense, all language varieties in a language area that are not part of the standard language but are part of the common vernacular can be regarded as vernacular languages: indigenous languages, non-written dialects, jargons , written prestige languages . For example, in the Schleswig-Holstein region of fishing, a Low German variety of its own color is spoken, which followed the Danish dialect Sønderjysk - which is also known as South Jutland or Low Danish .

In such language areas the phenomenon can be observed that in a conversation situation there is a change between high-level language and vernacular language. These regions are called language contact zones in linguistics. Minority languages ​​are exposed to so-called contact pressure from the official language or the high-level language as a model, reference and umbrella language. As part of a field study in the Hungarian-German Hajosch in the Batsch-Kleinkumanien combine, the phenomenon of mixing within a conversation was examined under this aspect. One speaks increasingly of a hybridity of linguistic usage. It was found that the so-called “contact German has the language-communicative fingerprint of Hungarian as the dominant contact and prestige language and, with its phenotypic characteristics and relationships, represents a microcosm of its own in many ways that requires a holistic view”.

In the bilingual regions of Louisiana and Acadia , it was found that the speakers did not just borrow single words from high-level English, but rather complete syntagms and sentences. Depending on the topic of the conversation, there is a more or less frequent change between vernacular and high-level language. This is assessed as a clear indication of the linguistic insecurity of the speakers as well as the increasing inability to name things of everyday life in vernacular. With regard to the future prospects of the respective vernacular languages, this development gives cause for concern.

In Gibraltar, to put it simply, there is a special form of language that is a mixture of English and Spanish. Over the past three hundred years, various speaker groups have developed this form called yanito. Yanito has an Andalusian-colored Spanish basic matrix, in which mainly English elements are incorporated. These elements can be inserted in three different ways: individual lexemes , phrases as syntactic units and whole sentences. Yanito is spoken in an informal sphere that is mainly about verbal communication. Yanito has no standardized grammar, there are hardly any texts. The attempt to create dictionaries has so far failed due to the rapid linguistic change in this vernacular language. Yanito is not taught in any educational institution, but is an identity feature of solidarity and togetherness.

Origin and development

In Germany, the vernacular language emerged from a certain linguistic style of high culture, in that one of numerous dialects was privileged. Vernacular languages ​​did not exist as a given original language. The spread of the vernacular language was made possible by the invention of the printing press. This innovation encountered a steadily growing reader potential who relied on communication in its vernacular language. The reformers' demand that every believer should be able to read the Bible in their own vernacular - not Latin - contributed to their expansion: “After Luther's spectacular appearance on the historical stage, three times as many books were in German between 1520 and 1540 , mainly in its variant of the Saxon chancellery style, sold as in the two decades before. ”The vernacular did not grow organically in any way, but was created quite consciously and served as an indicator of linguistic national unity and culture, as well as a vehicle for national ideas.

The art form of the legend , especially the Legenda aurea of Jacobus de Voragine , was most widespread in the Middle Ages after the Bible. This importance can be seen in the large number of their manuscripts and their translations into vernacular languages.

When looking at nation-building processes, it was found that the beginning of the development of European vernacular languages, which were shaped into literary languages, is mostly characterized by intensive translation activity. In the 12th century in particular, vernacular languages ​​served to mediate between the literatures of the Islamic, Jewish and Christian faith communities in translations: “The work of this translation center is quite well documented, especially the method used when the translator was used to translate from Arabic into Latin resorted to a mostly Jewish or Mozarabic mediator who did not have a good command of Latin, but spoke Arabic and the Hispanic-Roman vernacular language. "

In recent history , the Catholic Church in America has modified its faith teaching strategies. In the face of indigenous languages, the church had to change its attitude towards Latin. In the Indias, too, catechesis, sermons and confession were to be carried out in the respective vernacular languages, as happened in Europe after the Tridentinum .

Globalization: English as a global high-level language

In the course of the linguistic globalization of Europe - towards a bilingualism , which is called diglossia in linguistics - the danger is seen that English will be established as a global high-level language (global language) in Europe, while the respective mother tongues are downgraded to the level of everyday vernacular languages. English as the language for high-level discourses ( science , culture, politics, economics, finance) and the mother tongue for low-level discourses in everyday life. It is assumed that high-level language has an economic value because it serves professional advancement and success. Only high language is considered to be capital-rich, while everything else is superfluous, if not harmful. This development is already known as the cultural revolution, provided that the Anglophone monolingualism affects society as a whole and not just individual areas such as science. For example, current research results in political science and biology are only available in English.

“There is then no way back to German as a scientific language. German is losing entire landscapes of its expansion, as linguistics call it, and with it increasingly its prestige . The status of German is declining: Here the high-level language German crumbles, here German becomes the vernacular language. "

Around 6000 languages ​​are spoken in the world. Linguists predict that in a hundred years there will be 200 to 600 left. German will be part of it. But no longer as a cultural language, but as a vernacular language. As an idiom, as it were, that is still practiced by a few million leading culture Germans.

See also


  • Philip Ford : The Judgment of Palaemon: The Contest Between Neo-Latin and Vernacular Poetry in Renaissance France. Brill, Leiden 2013 (Medieval and Renaissance Authors and Texts, Vol. 9), pp. 112–119, (online)
  • Joseph Ziegler: Religion and Medicine: On the Adaption of Latin and Vernacular Medical Texts to Hebrew Readership. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 18, 1999, pp. 149-158.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Isabel Bojanovský: For Spanish-English language contact in Gibraltar. (PDF) 2013, accessed on February 16, 2016 (diploma thesis at the University of Vienna).
  2. ^ Agnieszka Hafner: The language question in the domains of school and jurisdiction in old Austrian Upper Italy. Italian and German as the vehicular languages ​​of Cisleithania. (PDF) June 2011, p. 17 f , accessed on February 16, 2016 (diploma thesis at the University of Vienna).
  3. a b Jürgen Trabant: Global or what? A plea for Europe's languages in the Google book search
  4. Harald Wolbersen: The Danish language in the fishing region. (PDF) In: Nordeuropaforum. 2015, accessed February 15, 2016 .
  5. Csaba Földes: Syncretism and hybridity in special areas of bilingual speech: Notes on German-Hungarian language contact. (PDF) In: Yearbook of Hungarian German Studies 2005. Magdolna Orosz, Terrance Albrecht, pp. 179–202 , accessed on February 16, 2016 .
  6. ^ Ingrid Neumann-Holzschuh: Cajun (Louisiana) and Acadien (Canada). Convergences and divergences in the lexicon. (PDF) Retrieved February 16, 2016 .
  7. Hans-Ulrich Wehler: Nationalism. History, shapes, episodes in Google Book Search
  8. Sabine Narr: The legend as an art form in the Google book search
  9. ^ Dilek Dizdar, Andreas Gipper, Michael Schreiber (eds.): Nation building and translation in the Google book search
  10. Jacques Langhade: Between Islam and Latin Christianity: the work of philosophers, religious man and lawyers Averroes. August 2011, accessed February 16, 2016 .
  11. Ofelia Huamanchumo de la Cuba: texts on baptism of Indians in the early days of Christianity in America. (PDF) In: Communications of the Collaborative Research Center Early Modern Times of the University of Munich. University of Munich, Collaborative Research Center Early Modern Times, 2010, p. 29 f. , accessed February 16, 2016 .
  12. Wolfgang Krischke: To be or to be, that is the question here. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, April 30, 2014, accessed on February 16, 2016 .
  13. a b Jürgen Trabant: About crazy trains, German and other languages ​​of science. In: Journal of the Saxon Academy of Sciences, Issue 6 (2011). January 21, 2011, accessed on February 16, 2016 (lecture as part of the Akademie-Forum Deutsch als Wissenschaftsssprache on January 21, 2011 in the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig).
  14. Bartholomäus Grill: The censor is happy. Die Zeit, November 3, 2011, accessed on February 16, 2016 .